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Samuel Parkes: Chemist, author, reformer—A biography

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Samuel Parkes, an early nineteenth century chemist, combined in his remarkable career the role of chemical manufacturer, author, and man of affairs. His Chemical Catechism , which appeared between 1806 and 1825 in twelve successive editions, attracted large numbers of students to the pursuit of chemical sciences by its lively and attractive-yet-rigorous presentation. His important Chemical Essays contributed significantly to the progress of chemical technology. Both works exerted wide influence by their publication in several editions in America and, in translation, in France, Germany, and Italy. Parkes was the principal chemical witness before Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry, and was one of the chief movers in the long and eventually successful campaign aimed at abolishing the oppressive Salt Duties which had exerted a very harmful effect on the national economy. In company with eminent chemists of the day, he gave evidence in important civil trials. Parkes' enthusiastic championship of chemistry at all levels, and his colourful personality, made him an outstanding figure on the contemporary scientific scene.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine (University of London), Rowland Hill Street, London, NW3 2PF, UK

Publication date: 1997-09-01

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